Internet Prioritaria (Critical Internet)

Due to recent budgetary problems, the Venezuelan government has decreed cuts in public spending deemed luxurious and superfluous. Curiously, among the items included in this list is government subsidized Internet access in public institutions such as universities. This contradicts directly previous legislation that made universal access to the Internet a matter of public policy in order to bring information technologies closer to citizens.

According to Article 2 of Decree 6649 the following items are considered luxurious and superfluous and only allowed subject to approval by the Vice-President:
  • Access to mobile telephony, international dialing, and Internet
  • Purchase and rental of executive vehicles
  • Official foreign trips
  • Contracting of special consultants for auditing, management and legal services, engineering, architectural, etc.
  • Alterations and renovations of public offices and residencies
  • Purchase of equipments and technological platforms
  • Purchase of publicity services and promotional materials
  • Parties related to public protocols
  • Floral arrangements and ornaments
The above list speaks for itself and, not surprisingly, has stirred up a lively debate, especially among members of the academic community. Critics of the decree are not against cutting down superfluous government expenditure, such as the purchase of floral arrangements, expensive foreign trips and arrangements of lavish parties. Rather, they are against labeling Internet access and the procurement of supporting technological platforms as superfluous and luxurious items.
By submitting internet use to the consideration of the Executive Vice-president, the decree violates the public policies of the Venezuelan state, since internet was declared a priority in Decree No. 825 and the State has made efforts to use internet for the benefit of efficiency in public administration, health and education. Decree No. 6649 could affect the development of projects linked to information technologies.
Recently, a cyber-campaign with the title Internet Prioritaria (Critical Internet) has been formed around this issue. The campaign brings together people from different countries, areas of knowledge and political views that agree with the view that properly used the Internet to effectively boost social awareness and contributing to national development and finest use of public resources.

Please visit the following links for more information and to support the campaign:

You can also follow the discussion on Twitter. Search for the hashtag #internetlujo.

Or join the Facebook Group Internet Prioritaria.

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